When Theo Epstein addressed the continued rehab of closer Brandon Morrow earlier today, I was legitimately more optimistic about his return than I was when I woke up. Epstein stressed that there were still a wide range of outcomes for how his season could go, but added that Morrow had a decent shot at coming back and impacting the Cubs before the regular season was over.
Well, Morrow had another bullpen session this morning (his second, for all intents and purposes) and it apparently went quite well! So well, in fact, that the next step – a simulated game – is being scheduled (no date yet, but sometime in the next 2-4 days) and a target for his return has been set:
Morrow threw more than 30 pitches in today's bullpen and said he was happy with the velocity and how it felt. Anticipates a sim game soon and then hopes to return by end of next week (after Cubs off day).
— Tony Andracki (@TonyAndracki23) September 12, 2018
According to Andracki, the Cubs closer not only threw 30 pitches, but was happy with the velocity and even how it felt. He later admitted that there was still some “ache” from the bone bruise and that he expected to pitch through some discomfort when he returned, but that was somewhat expected. And, of course, even a 90% healthy Brandon Morrow can still be an extremely effective reliever, so the Cubs would be happy to take what they can get.
It’s like Epstein said this morning, we’re at an “all-hands on deck” moment here.
As for immediately returning to the closer role, Morrow suggested he doesn’t care, especially given the success of Pedro Strop in his absence. Obviously, this shouldn’t matter too much – the reliever should be chosen based on the matchup and severity of the situation, not on the inning or existence of a save opportunity – but I do tend to think that, when healthy, Morrow is the better option at closer.
Of course, whether or not he’s fully healthy/effective remains to be seen. So to that end, I’d expect Strop to continue on where he’s at for now, before perhaps shifting duties back over to Morrow as we inch closer to October.
You can watch Morrow discuss his session and immediate future for yourself, below: